Back in 2008, DreamWorks acquired the rights Ghost In The Shell. Slowly but surely, they’ve been gathering cast and crew, such as Rupert Sanders of Snow White and the Huntsman fame to direct. Last month, it was confirmed that the movie’s lead role of Major Motoko Kusanagi had gone to Scarlett Johansson. The movie is set for an April 2017 release, but that date might have to be pushed back, as fans have started a petition to remove Scarlett Johansson from the lead role.
It isn’t as if fans have anything against Scarlett Johansson. She’s beautiful, she’s a good actress, and she has already shown her capability at bringing comic characters to life through Marvel’s Black Widow. The outcry isn’t against the actress herself – in fact, almost any Hollywood actress could have been cast to the same reaction.
Fans problem is with the studio, and its white-washing of the film. The manga of which the movie will be based off takes place in Japan, but with a white lead, it is a guarantee the setting will be changed the the protagonist will no longer be called Motoko Kusanagi.
There is a serious problem in Hollywood when it comes to Asian representation. The petition raises many excellent points about the industry’s flaws and the problems with the recent casting:
“Fans of the iconic 1995 animated Japanese sci-fi film Ghost in the Shell have been anticipating a live-action remake for years — but now, instead of casting an Asian actress, Dreamworks has selected Scarlett Johansson for the lead role! The film revolves around Major Motoko Kusanagi, a member of a futuristic security force tasked with tracking a mysterious hacker.
The original film is set in Japan, and the major cast members are Japanese. So why would the American remake star a white actress? The industry is already unfriendly to Asian actors without roles in major films being changed to exclude them. One recent survey found that in 2013, Asian characters made up only 4.4% of speaking roles in top-grossing Hollywood films.
DreamWorks could be using this film to help provide opportunities for Asian-American actors in a market with few opportunities for them to shine — please sign the petition asking them to reconsider casting Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and select actors who are truer to the cast of the original film!”
Fans who have already signed the petition have been quick to suggest other actresses for the role, most prominently Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim fame. Even if the entire film is not cast with Asian-American actors, having the lead role be as she should is a major step in the right direction.
The petition, which needs 35,000 signatures, is already sitting at over 34,000. If you’re a fan of Ghost In The Shell and want to see your favourite characters represented properly, or even if you’re not familiar with the subject but want to see more Asian-America actors in Hollywood, sign the petition here!